Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 - The Good, the Bad, the Surprising

Last year, my goal for books was 60, and I surpassed it to read a total of 87 books for 2014.  Not knowing what 2015 would hold in terms of reading time, I set my goal for 75 books, thinking it would be a stretch but attainable.  At year's end, these were my stats according to Goodreads:

79 books
25,257 pages
Average length: 337 pages
Longest book: Winter - 824 pages

If only I kept better track of books I picked up, but didn't finish, I think that page total would be significantly higher.  This seemed to be the year of disappointing books.  There were even a few books I had looked forward to with anticipation, only to find myself sadly setting them aside unfinished (After You, I'm looking at you).  Overall, I found myself frustrated with the quality of books I picked up this year.  Even still, I managed to give 6 books a 5-star rating on Goodreads. 

These were some of my top choices this year:


It's rare for me to even finish a non-fiction book these days, let alone give one 5 stars, but this was well worthy of both my time and my rating.  The combination of biography, WWII accounts, and history of crew as a sport was well done and incredibly interesting.


I don't love everything by Charles Martin, but Water from my Heart was amazing.  In my review, I said "This is not a pretty book about someone who made an honest mistake with good intentions."  It's not always easy, or good, to read about someone's bad choices, but learning from someone else's redemption story can be thought-changing.

I was super excited to have won a copy of To Get to You, from Joanne Bischof this summer; I've enjoyed every one of her books, and this one was no exception.  I'm excited to see this series continue!

Children's/Middle Grade

It was a bit of a struggle to get my 7-year-olds to move from picture books to chapter books; one of them latched onto The One and Only Ivan on his kindle, and we loved reading it together.  I even bought him a copy of this in paperback to mark the first serious (325 pages!) chapter book he read.  It was so fun for him to talk to me about where we were in the book, and discuss the parts that were sad, or the parts that made us laugh.  I love having more book readers in my house!

My other 7-year-old is a bigger fan of audio books than paper books (although we're working on that), and The Mysterious Benedict Society series captured his attention early this summer.  The first audio book is in the 14-hour range, and he blew through it in less than a week.  We also read/listened to these as a family on our summer vacation drive, and we continue to refer to these characters even now, they were so fun!

Young adult/Sci-Fi

Another of my favorite authors, Katie Ganshert branched out this year under the name K.E. Ganshert to pen a series of young adult novels.  These were fantastic, and I was so glad she released them in quick succession, because I would not have wanted to wait long for each installment!  I convinced my book club to read them (even one who's typically very anti-sci-fi), and when the author ran a promotion where the proceeds all went to charity, i purchased another set for someone else who I thought would love them.

And so...

So while it wasn't a fantastic year for books in general for me, I did manage to pull several diamonds out; from all over the reading map, apparently!  Last year, I came up with a list of books I was excited to read in the year ahead, and I managed to read all but one of them this year.  While I would love to have books to list here to look forward to in 2016, I can't say I know of many.  I'm sure there will be some good surprises this year, but many of the series I'd been invested in seem to have finished up this year, and several of my favorite authors don't have any dates set for releases.

I am setting a goal of 75 books again for this year; that seems to be the sweet spot for me - enough of a stretch that I feel challenged, but when I hit a slump where nothing is catching my attention, I don't feel discouraged (by an arbitrary goal, I know).

Do you have goals this year?
Do you have books to look forward to?  What should be on my '16 list?
Did you read any of my favorite books?  What did I miss?